The Lady in the White Dress, Whom I Helped Into the Omnibus

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The Lady in the White Dress, Whom I Helped Into the Omnibus
by Nathaniel Parker Willis

I know her not! Her hand has been in mine,
And the warm pressure of her taper arm
Has thrill'd upon my fingers, and the hem
Of her white dress has lain upon my feet,
Till my hush'd pulse, by the caressing folds,
Was kindled to a fever! I, to her,
Am but the undistinguishable leaf
Blown by upon the breeze—yet I have sat,
And in the blue depths of her stainless eyes,
(Close as a lover in this hour of bliss,
And steadfastly as look the twin stars down
Into unfathomable wells,) have gazed!
And I have felt from out its gate of pearl
Her warm breath on my cheek, and while she sat
Dreaming away the moments, I have tried
To count the long dark lashes in the fringe
Of her bewildering eyes! The kerchief sweet
That enviably visits her red lip
Has slumber'd, while she held it, on my knee,—
And her small foot has crept between mine own—
And yet, she knows me not!
                          Now, thanks to heaven
For blessings chainless in the rich man's keeping—
Wealth that the miser cannot hide away!
Buy, if the will, the invaluable flower—
They cannot store its fragrance from the breeze!
Wear, if they will, the costliest gem of Ind—
It pours its light on every passing eye!
And he who on this beauty sets his name—
Who dreams, perhaps, that for his use alone
Such loveliness was first of angels born—
Tell him, oh whisperer at his dreaming ear,
That I too, in her beauty, sun my eye,
And, unrebuked, may worship her in song—
Tell him that heaven, along our darkling way,
Hath set brigh lamps with loveliness alight—
And all may in their guiding beams rejoice;
But he—as 'twere a watcher by a lamp—
Guards but this bright one's shining.